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Tag Archives: Oprah Winfrey

Reduce Your Stress in 2 Minutes a Day

Bill Rielly had it all: a degree from West Point, an executive position at Microsoft, strong faith, a great family life and plenty of money. He even got along well with his in-laws! So why did he have so much stress and anxiety that he could barely sleep at night? I have worked with Bill for several years now and we both believe his experience could be useful for other capable, driven individuals.

At one time no level of success seemed enough for Bill. He learned at West Point that the way to solve problems was to persevere through any pain. But this approach didn’t seem to work with reducing his stress. When he finished his second marathon a few minutes slower than his goal, he felt he had failed. So to make things “right” he ran another marathon just five weeks later. His body rejected this idea, and he finished anhour slower than before. Finally, his wife convinced him to figure out what was really driving his stress. He spent the next several years searching for ways to find more joy in the journey. In the process he found five tools. Each was ordinary enough but together they proved life-changing and enabled his later success as an Apple executive.

Breathing. He started small by taking three deep breaths each time he sat down at his desk. He found it helped him relax. After three breaths became a habit, he expanded to a few minutes a day. He found he was more patient, calmer, more in the moment. Now he does 30 minutes a day. It restores his perspective while enabling him to take a fresh look at a question or problem and come up with new solutions. Deep breathing exercises have been part of yoga practices for thousands of years, but recentresearch done at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital document the positive impact deep breathing has on your body’s ability to deal with stress.

Meditating. When Bill first heard about meditation, he figured it was for hippies. But he was surprised to find meditators he recognized: Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Marc Benioff and Russell Simmons among them. Encouraged, he started with a minute a day. His meditation consisted of “body scanning” which involved focusing his mind and energy on each section of the body from head to toe. Recent research at Harvard has shown meditating for as little as 8 weeks can actually increase the grey matter in the parts of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and learning. In other words, the meditators had increased their emotional control and brain power!

Listening. Bill found if he concentrated on listening to other people the way he focused when he meditated his interaction immediately became richer. The other person could feel he was listening, almost physically. And when they knew he was listening they formed a bond with him faster. Life almost immediately felt richer and more meaningful. As professor Graham Bodie has empirically noted, listening is the quintessential positive interpersonal communication behavior.

Questioning. This tool isn’t about asking other people questions, it’s about questioning the thoughts your mind creates. Just because your mind creates a thought doesn’t make it true. Bill got in the habit of asking himself “Is that thought true?” And if he wasn’t absolutely certain it was, he just let it go. He said: “Thank your mind for coming up with the thought and move on. I found this liberating because it gave me an outlet for negative thoughts, a relief valve I didn’t have before.” The technique of questioning your thoughts has been popularized by Byron Katie who advocates what she calls “the great undoing.” Her experience and research show there is power in acknowledging rather than repressing negative thoughts. Instead of trying to ignore something we believe to be true, questioning allows us to see our thoughts “face to face” so to speak and to discredit them because they are untrue.

Purpose. Bill committed to living with purpose. Not so much his life’s purpose. It was easier than that. He committed to purposefully doing whatever he was doing. To be doing it and only it. If he decided to watch TV he really watched it. If he was having a meal he took the time to enjoy the meal. There is research to support Bill’s experience. In “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons: An Empirical Study of Work Without Email” Gloria Mark and Armand Cardello cite evidence to suggest knowledge workers check email as much as 36 times an hour. The result is increased stress. Giving each activity your undivided attention ensures you’re in the moment and fully living that experience.

An important key for Bill in all of this was starting small—very small. It’s important because you can’t take on stress in a stressful way. Often we try to bring about change through sheer effort and we put all of our energy into a new initiative. But you can’t beat stress using the same techniques that created the stress in the first place.

Instead, the key is to do less than you feel you want to. If you feel like breathing for two minutes, do it for just one minute. If you are up for a day of really listening to people deeply, do it for the next meeting only. Leave yourself eager to try it again. What you want is to develop a sustainable habit: a stress-free approach to reducing your stress.

More like this? Get a free excerpt from Greg’s upcoming book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by subscribing here.

 

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Turn Passion Into Productivity

Turn Passion Into Productivity
Lessons from Five First Time Entrepreneurs Who Capitalized on Creativity

We’ve all heard the success stories of legendary people like Steve Jobs, Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey. Mark Zuckerberg, once a Harvard drop out, is now a household name. But what about the little people- mere mortals who turned an idea into an enterprise?

Thanks to websites such as Amazon, Etsy and Ebay, as well as infinite resources for small business owners, the chance to own your own company is more possible than ever. The growth of social media has only encouraged the growth of small businesses, offering affordable marketing that’s been proven to pay off. From online teddy bear boutiques to fast paced food trucks, the time to be an entrepreneur seems to be now.

So what are you passionate about? Tea? Landscaping? Watches? Instead of pushing paper for the rest of your life, turn your hobby, interest, or obsession into a profitable business- just like these entrepreneurs did. Learn five vital lessons from first time entrepreneurs that turned passion into productivity.

Turn Everyday Frustration Into Opportunity
Joi Sumpton, Founder of the Step-n-Wash

Joi Sumpton’s life changed in a Barnes and Nobles bathroom. Tired of having to hold her kids up to public restroom sinks, Sumpton was struck with a brilliant idea. What if she didn’t have to? A few sketches, brilliant product development, personal investment and a year later, Joi has launched a successful business out of mere frustration.

Her innovative product, a retracting step stool for public bathrooms, has made life a little easier for parents and guardians everywhere. The Step-n-Wash website states that “thousands of businesses” have installed the Step-n-Wash to increase the safety and hygiene in their public restrooms. Joi’s experience shows that with some imagination, simple, everyday hassles can be transformed into opportunity.

Make It A Family Affair
Ashley Schoenith, Creator of Ice Milk Aprons

Tallahassee native Ashley Schoenith started Ice Milk Aprons with one intention- to spend more time with her grandmother. Inspired by her seamstress grandmother’s love for cooking and entertaining, Ashley decided that aprons were the way to go. After long weekends of brainstorming, fabric selection and sewing, Ashley successfully launched Ice Milk Aprons in 2008.

Unfortunately, Ashley’s grandmother passed away before the launch, but Ashley is still inspired by her. According to the Ice Milk Aprons website, Ashley hopes that families will “pass down traditions” with the use of her sleek, sophisticated aprons. Ice Milk Aprons are available online, and in various stores in Atlanta, where Ashley and her husband reside.

Find New Functions for Existing Products
Fred Meyers, Queensboro.com

For New York native Fred Meyers, the start of The Queensboro Shirt Company wasn’t about fashion- it was about function. A huge fan of Lacoste polo shirts, Fred wondered if there was a way that the same comfort could be achieved minus the alligator patch. After graduating from business school, Fred decided to go into the custom shirt business full-time.

As the first company to offer custom embroidered shirts in small quantities, Queensboro has continued to be a key player in the corporate apparel business. For over twenty years, Fred has focused on top-notch customer service and high-quality products to gain customers in a competitive market. Living up to it’s reputation of outstanding customer service, Queensboro.com promises that customers won’t find “a company that will work harder to make you happy,”.

Fulfill Needs in a Highly Specific Market
Julia Erickson, Aaron Ingley, Barre Nutrition Bars

For ballet dancers Julia Erickson and Aaron Ingley, the start of Barre Nutrition Bars came from their own need. Julia was tired of scrambling for heavy snacks that weren’t nutritious. She decided to make her own energy bar, and from some mere kitchen ingredients, Barre was born.

After signing on her partner and fellow dancer Aaron, the two have taken the ballet world by storm. The pair are dedicated to providing a light, yet filling and highly nutritious snack for their fellow dancers. On their website, realfoodbarre.com, they explain that “Dancers do eat,” and discuss the benefits to their vegan friendly, no sugar power bars.

Think Way, Way, Way Outside The Box
Bryan Silverman, Star Toilet Paper

Bryan Silverman, Duke University student and Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Entrepreneur of 2012, found a market in an unexpected place: the bathroom. In an interview with Business Insider, Bryan revealed that when his brother first pitched him the idea, he “pooh-poohed it”. Luckily, he came to his senses and realized the potential for toilet paper marketing.

Hoping to revitalize traditional marketing, Bryan and his brother, Jordan, started Star Toilet Paper in 2010. The Eco-friendly, easy to read toilet paper is safe to use, and offers a creative alternative for businesses to offer coupons, promotions, and ads. The trend is already catching on for Star Toilet Paper, acquiring them clients such as Allstate, Pita Pit, and Smoothie King.

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Melissa Weidenborner is a content creation specialist and freelance writer currently working in SEO and Social Media. In her spare time, she blogs about vintage goods, food, lifestyle and online marketing. Follow her adventures on Twitter @vintageandnerdy.

 

 

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Using the Law of Attraction to Improve Your Life

If you’ve ever heard of “The Secret” that Oprah Winfrey famously talked about on her show, you’ve heard of the law of attraction. The law of attraction isn’t necessarily a “secret,” but rather a popular belief that essentially says the way you think will affect your life. A very simple way of summing up the law of attraction is the saying, “like attracts like.” If you have positive thoughts, positive things will happen in your life. In turn, negative thinking will create negative results. Many people practice the law of attraction in their lives, and it’s easy to use it in yours, too. If you’re looking to improve your life, here are some simple ways to do it using the law of attraction.

Follow Your Heart
Many people use the law of attraction when they want to get certain results, such as earning more money or finding a soul mate. With the law of attraction, it’s believed that if you are a happy person, and you do things that make you happy and live in a positive way, more positive things will be able to come to you. You should do what you love, for example, and success will find you. If you concentrate on a career or relationship that doesn’t make you happy, you’re not giving yourself room to improve. It’s important to first and foremost focus on the things that give you joy, and the rest will follow.

Say Daily Affirmations
Affirmations are an important part of the law of attraction. You have to open yourself up to the possibilities of success and improvement in your life, and affirmations are a way to do it. Think of a very simple phrase that describes the success you hope for. For example, “I have a loving partner,” or “I earn millions of dollars per year.” Then, repeat this affirmation to yourself many times throughout the day, such as when you wake up, when you’re in the car, and before you go to bed. If you truly believe the affirmation, it’s more likely to come true.

Trust Your Instincts
The law of attraction focuses on the pull of the universe. When you’re open to positivity and living a positive life, more good things will come to you. In addition, your instincts are how the universe guides you. For example, if you suddenly get a feeling or an inspiration about something, go with it. Listen to the cues that you can’t explain, because they’re there for a reason.

Be Grateful
It’s also incredibly important to be grateful for the positivity in your life. You shouldn’t take anything for granted, and you should be grateful for even the smallest things. That appreciation will bring even more positivity into your life. Your emotions and mood will set the tone for the results you get in your life, so try to practice being grateful every day. You might want to keep a gratitude journal to remind you of all the good things in life.

As you continue to practice the law of attraction in your life, you should begin to see some improvements. Opening yourself up the possibility of a better life will put you a big step ahead toward getting there. As you try to banish all things negative from your life, especially negative feelings, you’ll notice things begin to turn around for the better.

Stella Brown writes about relationships and wellness with help from her favorite grammar checker. Since it’s cold where she lives, she is looking forward to a long Bahamas vacation.

 

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